The Border Terrier

The Border Terrier
The Border Terrier
Alert and energetic, devoted and loving—this scruffy little terrier is an up-for-anything dog that’s ready to roll with you…no matter what!


“What kind of mix is he?” That’s a typical comment when a Border Terrier walks in the room. Well, he may not look fancy, but he’s anything but ordinary. This scruffy little character might pass under your radar, but he shouldn’t. This terrific terrier with a rich history is a thief of hearts. 

This plucky little dog was originally developed in the 19th century by shepherds and farmers in the border region between England and Scotland. With herds grazing openly, the threat to sheep from predators was significant. They needed a tough, hard-working terrier who could handle rough terrain and weather, while keeping up with horses. A leggy terrier would fit the bill, but they also needed a dog that was small enough to go to ground and drive foxes from their dens. 

In developing the breed, a variety of other terriers were introduced for type and temperament, most notably the Bedlington and the Dandie Dinmont. Interestingly, because this breed needed to work and live alongside other dogs, such as Fox Hounds, there was a need to veer from a traditionally-terrier temperament. The trademark terrier stubbornness is milder in the Border Terrier, and unlike many terriers, he’s able to quickly make canine friends. This easygoing personality is a hallmark of the Border Terrier and sets him apart from his more argumentative cousins. 

Efforts to hone the breed were ongoing. While the Border Terrier was first accepted in 1920 by The Kennel Club, paintings of fox hunts dating back to the 1860s show dogs bearing remarkable resemblance to the breed we know today. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1930. 

The Border Terrier has a fairly long and narrow body. His determined, alert gaze is offset by a sweet, otter-like face. Weights range for males from 13 to 15 ½ pounds and females 11 ½ to 14. Proportions are important in the AKC standard. The height at the dog’s withers should be just slightly greater from the distance from the withers to its tail.


“Playful and rambunctious, a Border Terrier may just turn out to be the best playmate your child ever has.”


The Border Terrier has a short, dense undercoat and wiry topcoat. The AKC accepts red, grizzle and tan, blue and tan, or wheaten coat colours.

This is a dog bred to be hard-working, and he still can be—but he’s also a loving and devoted family companion. The Border Terrier will never thrive as an outsider.
He’s happiest with his people, including children with whom the breed is notoriously loving. Playful and rambunctious, a Border Terrier may just turn out to be the best playmate your child ever has. 

The Border Terrier is an active breed and needs daily exercise. Terriers are known for their stubborn streaks, but the Border is among the more biddable of the group’s members. He is intelligent and will thrive with positive reinforcement training.   

At home, daily walks and lots of play time are a minimum to keep this busy breed happy. Border Terriers respond well to obedience training and, given their innate desire to work out solutions and overcome challenges, sports like Agility, Tracking, and Earthdog are well-received by this tenacious terrier.

One thing to bear in mind is that he can be prone to make a run for it. Those working instincts remain strong and he loves to give chase… especially to smaller animals. Outside, keep him in a safe, fenced-in yard or on-leash. 

Those seeking a companion for outdoor adventures, take note! This is a terrific walking and hiking companion. He’s athletic and sturdy and he’ll follow you anywhere. 

Grooming requires a bit of effort. The Border Terrier’s wiry overcoat should be brushed and hand-stripped, not sheared, as it protects him from the elements. Learning to hand-strip your Border Terrier isn’t difficult and will save you some expense.  

The Border Terrier is a healthy and hearty breed with relatively few genetic problems. If you’re considering a puppy, work with a reputable breeder who takes great care to ensure their puppies possess a sound temperament and are in good health.

Plucky, scraggly, and playful, the Border Terrier is a lovable ragamuffin. This up-for-anything dog is so easy to be around, and he’ll be there for you. Those in search of a true companion may find what they are looking for—a loving little shadow with a huge heart, sticking by your side through thick and thin.


If you like the Border Terrier, you might also consider the...

             Russell Terrier                            Norfolk Terrier                        Australian Terrier

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